DLECTRICITY returns tonight to Detroit, flooding downtown streets with color, light, motion and sound with installations created by local creatives that often double as works of art and engineering marvels.
Stephanie Dinkins is one of those creatives lending her unique vision to the artscape of DLECTRICITY. As a transmedia Black woman artist, Dinkins’s work mainly focuses on exposing little-noticed biases and hierarchies in things like technology, artificial intelligence, and futurism and the connections there between race and history.
“I’ve been leaning into tech a lot lately, not just in execution but also in theme. Right now it’s awe inspiring, seen as that next step beyond, but I can’t wait until it’s commonplace to blend art and tech like nothing,” Dinkins says. “I was a dark-room kid. I grew up around creative people with cameras, so my work is foremost a documentary of my life and story.”
Interestingly, she also draws inspiration from gardening, harvest and sustainability, relating it to her upbringing and view on remedies and recipes as data and information. With her installation “On Love & Data and Holding Space,” which will be displayed high on the Woodward Avenue side of the Rackham Educational Memorial Building, Dinkins says she wanted to bring a slice of her grandmother’s storied garden to Detroit.
“The challenge here was figuring out how to minimize the Ann Arbor experience to something people strolling by on the street, Black and non-Black, could ponder at and get the same experience. Tech is so dynamic and it helps me better engage my ideas through imagery. It’s turned me into a tinkerer and painter, no matter how painful the process was,” she says.
“On Love, Data and Holding Space” in full is currently on display at the University of Michigan Stamps gallery. The installation is a beautiful and complex layer of themes and medium. Large images, prints and graphic screens showcase Dinkins’ art in a way that makes the viewer feel like they’re strolling through some mystical, cultured oasis.
“There’s artistic images of roses, pansies, flowers my grandmother loved, but also sugarcane, cotton and okra, plants that have hurt, sustained and grown with us through the ages. Intertwined in the images are the stories of Black women through those years–slaves, mothers, daughters,” Dinkins says.
“On Love, Data and Holding Space” in miniature will be featured in Detroit for just two nights, but the large installation at UofM will remain until Oct. 23rd. The gallery is free of charge to whoever might want to take a trip and experience Dinkins’ secret garden in full.